This will take some time to compose.

No it won’t. I just needed a good night’s sleep to shake off a disappointing night. I originally had a much more ambitious subject to tackle but this will be condensed.

Last night swords won out. Defensive, protect your back, short term thinking, swords. “They” killed a peace offering in the deluded hope that this would protect the sword weilders from a perceived threat. That self defensiveness is far more likely to become a self fulfilling prophecy. The message unintentionally communicated is that the “competition” is infinitely more skilled than ISD 709. I know they are good but I also not they are not infinitely better. But any young parents reading the results of our school board’s deliberations on the morning after will see the results as a confirmation of ISD 709’s disintegration.

I liked what today’s story in the Trib reported that Art Johnston said about the Duluth Public Schools Academy: “Let’s work with them and take their money if we can make a deal, and beat them at their own game.” That’s the spirit! Art rightly criticized the “Edison” bashing that has reemerged from a teacher’s union long threatened by competition.

I hated the notion of competition when it was used by a previous Administration to describe how a charter school would improve ISD 709 schools. Competition is what two scorpions in a bottle do. It can be a zero sum game where the winner takes all and the loser takes the hindmost.

I first discovered that the families of the then new Edison school were made of different stuff in 1999 when I ran for reelection. Frank Wanner, the DFT President, was in a lather about the Charter and came to denounce the School Board some months before I filed for reelection. Something I said at the meeting to lighten the tension torked Frank off. As I wrote in a post dated Oct. 5, 2013 “Frank Wanner trained most of his guns on me, the chairman at the beginning of the year, to win one more vote for a generous contract settlement. When he didn’t get it he turned to me at a meeting, pointed his finger at me and said, “You’ll be a target in the next election.”’

This was not the first time I rose to a challenge……that makes me sound a little competitive huh? Well, one of the candidates running that year seemed to me to be a plant by the Union. I found a candidate to challenge him and bought 500 lawnsigns with that apparently pro union candidate’s name on it with a slash through it. I got the shock of my life when I brought a handfull of them to the new Edison parents I thought would jump at the chance to squelch an enemy of their new school. The reaction was almost universal. Our school is here to foster friendliness and cooperation. That kind of sign betrays everything Edison stands for. It was not the first thousand bucks I’ve thrown away in a political cause.

As hard as it may be to believe the hot shot, New York, corporate founders of Edison injected that philosophy into their Duluth school and it has remained that way ever since.

A short time later one of my favorite people became Edison’s headmaster, Bonnie Jorgenson. Bonnie had been Glen Avon Church’s youth director. I had gone with her on four annual youth mission trips to fix up poor people’s homes across the US. She brought a swords into plowshares mentality with her and it pervades the DPSA schools.

Earlier this week when I raised the subject with my daughter, Keely told me: “Bonnie gave up her office so that she could use it to help special needs children.”

“Edison” (the Duluth Public Schools Academy) is run with that spirit of community that I am always looking for. I was taken by surprise by Edison’s last minute offer for Central. Let me tell you what the cynics in ISD 709 thought about that offer:

Those rascals saw a chance to humiliate 709 by giving us an offer that was too good to be true and thus embarrass us when we turned it down (as they knew we would) rather than let them use the perfectly good school we closed to remind every one who drove past it how stupid we have been.

I know Bonnie Jorgenson and the DPSA ethos: If I could get into Bonnie’s head this is what I would have expected to find her thinking. The Duluth Public Schools are in a world of hurt. Let’s offer them the help they need so we can begin to partner with them rather than always be in their cross-hairs.

The snipers won this battle to prolong a war that DPSA families never asked for.

PS. To my knowledge none of the Board members voting against the sale took up Bonnie Jorgenson’s offer to give them a tour of her schools.

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